Andrew. wrote:krs I really respect that you've been very active in the Occupy movement. I don't know if I've said that to you before, but if there's one thing I have to say to you that's it: I respect what I know of your recent activism. Please bear this in mind as I go off below.
Thanks. I totally respect where you are coming from, even if I don't agree on how those ideas should be implemented.
I met with the Occupy Barrington group last night, on their first indoor meeting. Members of Occupy Elgin were in attendance. Things are happening in the Chicago suburbs. Ocuppy Naperville has their permit and will be marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17th.
The "punk patriot" isn't out of touch: he has conviction, which is the distinction
determining whose terms drive public discourse (what, you think early civil rights crusaders had the majority on their side?). The debate keeps moving to the right precisely because as the "Punk Patriot" says, the majority of liberals are spineless, unprincipled whiners. He is dead on.
How do you expect to change the system by shoring up the Democrats election after election, generation after generation
, and as he says "bitching out" anyone who doesn't? It's a fair and grounded fucking question. Think about the US split from colonial Britain: your argument is that it was impossible b/c unheard of. Americans need to shake off their own overlords, as unheard of as that may seem (as do Canadians, Brits, Greeks, etc).
From where I sit you seem completely out of touch with reality in that cliched "keep on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome" sort of way re: the 2-party system.
On a deeper, political-economic level what I interpret as your faith in (or unimaginative, parochial resignation to?) "democratic capitalism"
strikes me as divorced from historical reality and historical necessity both. (I get the impression you don't understand the relation between capital and the state, let alone the nature of each, like every liberal I've ever read or known.)
From an interview w/ French philosopher and activist Alain Badiou that I linked to already, speaking on multi-party
democracies (substitute liberal democracy or representative democracy for parliamentarism below) :
[T]oday, parties are internal to the parliamentary state. It's simply not true that you can participate in a system as powerful and ramified as parliamentarism w/o a real subjective commitment to it. In any case, the facts speak for themselves. None of the parties which have engaged the parliamentary system and won governing power has escaped what I would call the subjective law of 'democracy,' which is, when all is said and done, what Marx called an 'authorized representative' of capital. And I think that this is because, in order to participate in electoral or governmental representation, you have to conform to the subjectivity it demands […] the principle of 'this is the way it is, there is nothing to be done,' the principle of [a nation or population] in conformity with the financial markets, and so on. In France we've known this for a long time, for again and again, when left-wing parties come to power, they bring with them the the themes of disappointment, broken promises, and so forth. I think we need to see this as an inflexible law, not as a matter of corruption. I don't think it happens because people change their minds, but because parliamentary subjectivity compels it.
Liberalism is dead and can't even begin to live up to its own promises. Look no further than the Obama Admin and the Democratic party for confirmation.
Yours is the head in the sand from where I sit, krs. But again, I salute and commend your work in the Occupy movement -- in that practical activity, resides hope.
I am familiar with Badiou. Traditional liberal institutions have failed us.
Theories on capital aside, there is math involved in an election. If a Republican candidate shares 40-something percent of the likely vote and a Democratic candidate shares 40-something percent of the likely vote, there is little left for any other candidate. We have a winner-take-all system for electing president, and it only allows for one round of voting. As terrible as it sounds, I will vote more drone strikes
over BOMB, BOMB, BOMB....BOMB, BOMB IRAN
. Those were the two choices we had in 2008. The only choices that had a change of winning. The U.S. certainly made the right decision, out of the two valid options that year. Half a loaf, or even a quarter, is better than noting at all. These civil rights activists you mentioned continued to vote a Democratic legislature into power for decades and for presidents who also made little effort to ensure all people were treated equally under the law. They knew you can't evict an idea. Democracy, Egalitarianism. These things are inevitable. They are in our DNA
In the U.S., the presidency is a relatively weak branch of government. Though it has taken more and more power over the past decades, it is still last in line to approve any legislation, it cannot "spend" money (only allocate funds), it cannot amend the Constitution. Power lies in the fact that it is a single person, representing an entire branch of government. Local boards, state legislatures and federal legislatures are where third and fourth party candidates should be focusing their energy right now. The kind of polar shift necessary will only happen from the bottom up and through a culture change
. We are seeing municipalities around the country passing resolutions against Citizens United v. FEC. I think this is where it starts.
It has been a long, long, time since any movement that could be called left of center had any sort of populist support. I have met with a number of groups over the last four months, and a grass roots movement is definitely taking hold in the U.S. It lacks visibility in suburbia, but it is there. Most of the people I have seen at these meetings are not 20-something bomb-throwers. They are retired couples. Business owners in their 40's and 50's. Plans are being made to eventually run candidates, but I think it is too late for 2012. We have to have patience, start at the bottom and work our way up.